Monica pulls in the crowds

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The Independent Online
JUST IN case the Starr report, Bill Clinton's impeachment trial and assorted television interviews missed some wrinkle in the case, the authorised biography of Monica Lewinsky was officially published yesterday.

Booksellers across the country reported keen interest and brisk trade, although precise first-day sales figures will not be available until today. The launched followed Thursday evening's interview with Ms Lewinsky on Channel 4, which was watched by more than three million viewers.

The initial print run of Monica's Story, written by Andrew Morton and published by Michael O'Mara books, will be 100,000 copies, vast by conventional hardback standards and twice as many as the initial run of Diana: Her True Story.

The former White House intern arrives in Britain this weekend for an 18-day book-signing tour that begins at the Harrods branch of Waterstone's on Monday. Zelda Suite-Pedler, the branch's marketing manager, said customers were ringing up every three minutes to reserve of a copy of the book. "This is the biggest signing we've had here, the interest has been phenomenal," she said. "The other major signing was Margaret Thatcher and that was huge."

Ms Lewinsky and her entourage will visit 19 shops. A WH Smith spokeswoman said: "There has been a great deal of interest. It's obviously not as big as the Diana book, but it's certainly the most significant since Richard Branson's autobiography [Losing My Virginity]."

As for what readers will learn from the book, that seems to be rather less - certainly in terms of details about sexual trysts - than the Starr report.

Instead, it reveals a stint at an eating disorders clinic as a teenager; an abortion, resulting from a three-month fling with a Pentagon worker, in the midst of her relationship with Clinton; that she lost her virginity at 19 to a married man whose wife was expecting a baby; that after she found out the man was seeing someone younger, she "paid him back" by having a fling with his younger brother; and that she was taking antidepressants.